Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 470
As the subtitle of A World Made New indicates, Mary Ann Glendon’s book focuses on the role of Eleanor Roosevelt in overseeing the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). As a pioneering US delegate whom President Truman appointed to the United Nations, Roosevelt was first a member and then the “Chairman” of the UN Commission on Human Rights. Although many prominent politicians had reservations or outright opposed her for reasons including lack of foreign policy expertise and vocal opposition to racism, Truman was convinced she was an ideal representative.
As the Human Rights Commission began planning its activities, the Cold War was becoming more firmly established, as shown in Winston Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech in March 1946. Roosevelt was deeply committed to the importance of the committee’s work, as she wrote in a Foreign Affairs article. The Commission’s members generally
“thought that lack of standards for human rights the world over was one of the greatest causes of friction among the nations, and that the recognition of human rights might become one of the cornerstones on which peace could eventually be based.”
Although Soviet reservations about the dominant role of the United States in the initial organization of the United Nations is well known, Glendon points out that British resistance to both US and Soviet dominance was also embedded in reservations about the focus on human rights. Their reluctance included suspicion that the Americans wanted to make inroads into the economic affairs of British colonies by promoting their independence. While Winston Churchill was still prime minister,
Churchill and the Foreign Office, determined to resist any erosion of British imperial power, were not about to become champions of human rights. The issue of the future of colonial dependencies was a major source of friction between Britain and the United States.
One significant issue that Glendon...
(The entire section contains 470 words.)
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